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The ceiling in my condo is damaged from failed plumbing in the rental unit above, who pays for repairs?

Chapel Hill, NC |

I own my unit. Can I take out a lien on the property above if they do not cover the repairs?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. You'd first have to get a judgment that the owner of the condo above your unit was somehow negligent. You can't just take out a lien.

    Keep in mind, in a condominium situation, a condominium's association is usually responsible for repairs to common elements. The pipes may be considered common elements or they may be considered the responsibility of the upstairs tenant. You need to find out exactly where the leak occurred and why it was caused.

    I'd report this to your homeowners insurance company and let the insurer deal with it.

    DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.


  2. You can't "take out a lien." You'll need to file a lawsuit and win. After that, there are execution methods that can allow you to collect the money for the repairs from the person above you if he/she does not voluntarily pay the amount of the judgment. You should contact an attorney if you're thinking about filing suit for this.

    T. Shawn Howard
    Maginnis Law, PLLC
    www.maginnislaw.com

    The information provided should not be considered legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship. I am not licensed to practice in any State other than North Carolina. The results of your case will depend on the presentation of evidence, the law and other factors that may change depending on an in depth analysis of the facts of the case. Please see an attorney before making legal decisions.


  3. You should first put the homeowners association on notice of the problem, in case it is something that they are responsible for - or in case it affects a common area as well as your unit.

    Do you have homeowners insurance? Why not make a claim and let them go after the upstairs unit owner?


  4. Condominium issues in North Carolina can be complicated, so you definitely should speak with a community association attorney in your area about your specific facts. For instance, there may be a different result of who is responsible depending on whether the association was created before or after October 1, 1986 (when the N.C. Condominium Act became effective) as well as the language of your condominium Declaration. Also, stacked condos under the Act are treated differently, in that the association is typically required to insure 100% of the condo, including units.

    A good first step would be to notify the association and its management company (verbally and in writing) of your damages. Also, if you are continuing to incur damages, you should immediately notify the unit owner and tenants above (in hopes they will stop whatever behavior is causing the damages or at least contact a plumber). In the event you don't receive a quick and appropriate response, a local attorney could advise you on the next best steps given your specific documents and facts. Good luck!

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